Meeting with CNN

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet and have a conversation with John Sutter. He is a reporter with CNN and you can view his profile here on CNNs website.

He’s working on a story for CNN about Emery County peoples’ views on global warming. There was a survey from Yale researchers that estimated our county has one of the highest rates of climate skepticism in the US – meaning people often do not believe that humans and pollution are causing the Earth to warm. He is staying in our county for a week doing a listening tour, trying to understand peoples’ views on this issue, how they form them, what’s important to people here.

There will be follow up to this conversation.

State Legislature Regular Session 2017

Bill Support/Oppose Legislature Ruling
HB 439 Electronic Cigarette – Support
E-cigarettes should be regulated like regular cigarettes. The nicotine can be higher in e-cigs and recently has been found to have more carcinogens than regular cigs. It is on the rise quickly with the kids, which is a troubling stat. The Health Departments and CTCs support this bill.
HB 407 Utah Public Land Management -Monitor
If this is to work that this bill be enacted upon the fed giving the state the right to manage its own land, I support. I believe in locally managed lands. This bill should include all Federally “owned” lands e.g. BLM and FS.
HB 408 State Property and SITLA
My concern with this bill is that the state is wanting to override local ordinance authority over state land within the bounds of the county or municipality. We don’t like when the feds do it. Please don’t do that to the counties or the cities.
HB 442 Alcohol Amendments – Support
I support the loosening of Utah alcohol sales regulations. Namely, removing the Zion Curtain; If operating under a restaurant license, minors may not be seated/served within 10 feet of the bar.
HB 239 Juvenile JRI – Oppose (for now)
My sheriff and attorney do not like this. Their associations don’t like this. Does reform need to happen? Yes. But let’s make sure we have a handle on JRI before we start in on the juveniles.
SB 264 Outdoor Recreation Grant Program – General Support
While I would prefer the .3% tax to be on outdoor gear vs Transient Room Tax. It would be good to help with the outdoor rec program and trails matching program.
HB 253 Short-term Rental (AirBNB Bill) – Oppose
I am an hotelier, and I have used AirBNB. I really like and have enjoyed AirBNB several times. I believe in capitalism and believe that we should not, as a government, get in the way of it. This bill says that political subdivisions cannot prohibit but can regulate short-term rentals, this should be left to the local level of government to decide.  I believe that TRT tax should still be collected on these short-term rentals.
HB 175 Opioid Abuse Prevention – Support
This is another one of the three that I sent to you that I support.
HB 50 Opioid Prescribing Regulations – Support
Sets a 7-day opiate prescription limit for someone who hasn’t had an opiate prescription in the last 90 days and requires them to check the Utah controlled substance database. This keeps the supply of potentially abusable opiates in home medicine cabinets to a bare minimum and prevents multiple prescriptions for opiates.
HB 90 Insurance Opioid Regulation – Support
Requires Medicaid and commercial health insurance companies to establish policies to minimize the risks of opiate addiction and overdose from prescribing high doses of opiates and co-prescribing opiates and benzodiazepines. It also requires insurers to enact a policy to provide for medication-assisted treatment for patients with opiate dependence.
HB 146 Partial Filling – Support
Allows a patient or a physician to request that an opiate prescription be only partially filled. This would also minimize the supply of leftover opiates in household medicine chests.
HB 207 Federalism Amendments – Watching.
While I support the idea of federalism and following the 10th Amendment that powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. I am not sure what the $350,000 is going to do to help this. Yes on federalism, no to the fiscal note.
HB 265 Safety Amendments – Support
If I understand this bill correctly, it takes away the need to have vehicles inspected annually or when it is mandated by the state. From what I have read, inspecting vehicles has not increased vehicle safety on the roads. I am a fan of evidence-based programs. If there is little to no corresponding evidence of a program it should be removed.
HB 147 Living Wage – Oppose
The minimum wage is not supposed to be a living wage. It is low for those entering the marketplace, learning skills and getting experience. And for those who want to make more ask for it and move up the ladder, find another job where they can more up the ladder, or gain a greater education on a skill set for greater opportunity for a better job. I do believe that minimum wage should go up based on inflation but not arbitrarily for the good feelings for the minimum wage earner.

Continue reading State Legislature Regular Session 2017

Commissioners Report 3-7-17

March 7, 2017

State Legislative Regular Session

Meeting with Representative Watkins

Throughout the Utah State Legislative Regular Session I have been privileged and happy to meet with and discuss rules, regulations, laws & statutes that affect our state and county. It’s been a lot of time and reading and meetings. Some of these bills I was interested in, others came from the school district, Farm Bureau, Special Service Districts and you. I will post more information on some of bills that I addressed with our representatives after their regular session is over on Friday. I will have a link to the bill, my reasons for supporting/opposing or monitoring, and the final legislative verdict on the bills. Continue reading Commissioners Report 3-7-17

Letter from Senator Hinkins Week 6

Congratulations to Kirsten Broderick of Moab who took First Place in the 3rd Congressional district for her artwork in the 2017 Utah High School Art Competition!
Friends and Neighbors, 

Week 6, the last full week of the 2017 Legislative Session is in the books. Next Thursday at midnight will mark the end of the 2017 Legislative Session. At this point in the session, we’re working to finalize the budget and complete the process of turning ideas into bills and turning those bills into law. Next week’s legislative schedule includes at least one more packed day of committee meetings, and three full days of up to 13 hours of debate on the Senate floor.

Setting and balancing Utah’s budget is a very deliberative process. Weeks of study and consideration by appropriations subcommittees pass their final budget requests on to the Executive Appropriations Committee. One of the proposed changes that will be considered is a 4% increase in Education funding. (See the full list here.) The Executive Appropriations Committee which is made up of Senate and House leadership will set the final budget for the upcoming year. Click here to find out more about the budget process.

Utah has a Constitutional requirement that we pass a balanced budget by midnight on the last day of session. That requirement and our compliance with that mandate has been the driving force behind the State’s high financial stability rankings for years. Continue reading Letter from Senator Hinkins Week 6

Letter from Senator Hinkins

Friends and Neighbors, 

Week 3 of the 2017 Legislative Session is in the books! A total of 50 bills have passed through the legislature while committee agendas and reading calendars continue to be filled with more bills. Public Lands continue to be one of the biggest issues facing the legislature this session. Senate Majority Whip – Stuart Adams, recently wrote a great article describing why he supports the resolution to rescind Bears Ears National Monument. []

Each year during the Utah Legislative session, the federal delegation is invited to speak to the Utah Senate and give a report on their activities in Washington D.C. This week, we were honored to hear from Congressman Chris, Jason Chaffetz, and Rob Bishop. Congressman Stewart spoke about the need for greater civility and graciousness in our discourse. Congressman Chaffetz reported on his recent conversation with President Trump and his efforts on various reforms including the postal service and the tax code. Congressman Bishop focused on federalism and the “Article One Project.” Continue reading Letter from Senator Hinkins

Commissioners Report 2-21-17

February 21, 2017

Recently, I was able to attend Rural County Day on the Hill. Governor Herbert, Lt Governor Cox, Representative Albrecht, and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development addressed us. There was also a bit of Q&A for each.

In the Governor’s recent State of the State address, he said he wants to add 25,000 jobs to rural Utah. The Governors Rural Partnership Board put together the map to the left (click for a pdf) of how one job in rural Utah compares to a job on the Wasatch Front. For 1 job in Emery County, it is estimated to about 50 jobs on the Wasatch Front. That is quite significant. I told the Governor that rural Utah needs the infrastructure that the Wasatch front takes for granted in order to be able to develop and diversify our economies. I told him we have rail, highway, power, but fiber optic broadband; what we are missing in parts or our county is natural gas. The public utility rules and statutes need to change for them to be able to expand and provide money to operate and maintain the infrastructure. We’ll see where it goes.

Another aspect of this Day on the Hill was a presentation of Health Equity that expanded their business to Carbon county. I have heard that they have approximately 40 people from Emery County working there.

Continue reading Commissioners Report 2-21-17

Commissioners Report 2-7-17

February 7, 2017

The State legislature is in full swing. Senator Hinkins sent out a letter that you can read here on some of the bills that he is watching. Some that I am watching are:

  • SB 139 – Oppose: Limits school district participation to a maximum of 50% in a CRA (Community Reinvestment Area)
  • SB 142 – Oppose: Eliminates school district participation in tax increment financing by removing tax revenue collected under the basic local levy
  • HB 207 – Watching: While I support the idea of federalism and following the 10th Amendment that powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. I am not sure what the $350,000 is going to do to help this. Yes on federalism, no to the fiscal note.

Continue reading Commissioners Report 2-7-17

Letter from Senator Hinkins

Friends and Neighbors, 

Week 2 of the 2017 Legislative Session is in the books! A total of 11 bills have passed through the entire legislature but committee agendas and reading calendars are filling up with bills in a hurry.

We had some exciting events happen on the floor this week. We witnessed the proposal of Senator Henderson’s intern (she said yes). Senator Anderegg read an emotional citation honoring the Search and Rescue Dog Handlers that participated in the effort to find his missing niece – Annie Schmidt and bring closure to his family. ( ) Senator Henderson sponsored a resolution honoring a true American hero and Utahn, Gail Halvorsen.

My bill (SB171) , which designates Native American Rock Art as our official State Work of Art, has advanced through committee and will now be heard on the Senate Floor.

I’m also sponsoring a resolution (SCR03) asking the Department of Energy to adequately fund the Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Project . In 2000, Congress passed the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act of 2001 which required the United States Department of Energy (DOE) “to establish a remedial action program and stabilize, dispose of, and control uranium mill tailings and other contaminated material at the Moab, Utah, uranium ore processing site and associated properties in the vicinity”. Last year, approximately $38 Million was appropriated but that appropriation is $7 Million dollars short of the $45 Million the project is estimated to require. This bill passed unanimously out of committee. Listen to the hearing here. This bill has passed the Senate and now awaits consideration in the House.
Continue reading Letter from Senator Hinkins

Emery County EMS Op-Ed

Less of an Op-Ed, more of a Fact-Editorial.

On September 1, 2015, there was an Editor’s Note in the Emery County Progress that gave a short history of EMS in the county, along with a list of concerns and a list of possible solutions. It also noted that there had been a severe decline in EMTs in the county, trainings were few to nonexistent, and that there were holes in the on-call schedule.

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) had a rule that stated paid-volunteers over a certain amount of hours were considered full-time employees and were required to be offered insurance or pay a penalty. With the variableness of hours of on-call time the Commission felt that it was not a good use of the taxpayer’s money to pay these penalties, and we had a deadline on when those penalties were to be implemented.

With these concerns in mind, the Commissioners focused on finding a solution. Continue reading Emery County EMS Op-Ed